In the fall, Travis Pardee sits in the press box at Foothill High School football stadium every morning and at least one evening during the week as he watches the band rehearse. The symphony of wind instruments holds its last note until the release when he says, “Let me see that again.”
Pardee has been the band director for the Henderson school for more than 10 years, and he has a strong reputation for challenging his students. Their hard work paid off last April when the band was chosen to represent Southern Nevada at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in November.
Pardee has a great love of music and was influenced by those who taught him.
Pardee started his musical training as a saxophonist and vocalist in middle school, when his passion for music began to bloom.
“My band and choir directors really inspired me through their love of music and the way they spread it to their students,” he said.
Pardee supports the high school experience, remembering the challenges he faced while he was a teenager.
“I was in band, choir, cross-country and tennis. I had a busy schedule,” he said. “(I overcame my challenges) by time management and supportive coaches and parents.”
Pardee likes to see his students involved in a lot of activities.
“Kids are typically talented in multiple areas, and everyone wants them in their program or team,” he said. “I encourage my kids to be in as many activities as possible. You’re only in high school once.”
While in high school, Pardee’s life was affected by his peers and teachers.
“I married the color guard captain, and my best friend played the French horn,” he said. “We were college classmates and still speak almost weekly.”
Also, he said he will call his former teachers often and ask them for advice. “(My teachers) always taught me to strive for excellence.”
After continuing band and singing through high school and college, he graduated with a double major in music performance and music education from Wichita State University in Kansas.
“The difference between the two majors,” he said, “is that I can perform like any other musician that didn’t get a college degree, but I am certified to teach music in pretty much any state with a band program.”
The Oklahoma native, who has a master’s degree in music from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, considered other careers but decided to pursue his occupation as a band director.
“I love the job because I love band and working with young performers,” he said. “Plus, the job offers security that many professional performers don’t have, and we get summers off.”
Music is Pardee’s true passion, which has grown and matured over the years since he has been a band director.
“There is quality music in every genre and culture,” he said. “The older I get, the more music I am exposed to. The digital age has made it more accessible.”
While spreading his love of music, Pardee has influenced many lives.
“He’s always pushing us to do better,” said drum major Gabrielle Squillante, “and he pushes us to do things like honor band, all-state and solo and ensemble to gain experience. He always knows exactly how to inspire each and every one of us.”
Senior Jenny Harris, a saxophone player, said Pardee has “taught me how to be a leader and be a better person in general. He helped me become who I am.”
Foothill’s appearance in the Macy’s Parade is viewed as a great opportunity for the students. During that trip, the band appeared in famed Carnegie Hall.
“(It’s) a great accomplishment for Foothill,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both the students and staff.”
He said the hardest part about the trip was raising the money needed.
He would like to see the band perform in a Tournament of Roses Parade (aka the Rose Bowl parade in Southern California) and would like to take the students on a concert tour in Europe.
Pardee is committed to seeing the band improve each day; he wants to see stronger marchers and better musicians.
“Life is too short to be mediocre,” he said, “so be great now.”